Here are maps of who bought what, and where, in the recent AWS-3 spectrum auction
AT&T had to go in big on this auction for a few reasons, one was to ensure it could get the biggest return for its money and regain spectrum it had to give up to T-Mobile after it failed to acquire the carrier a few years ago. Another reason is that the 600MHz auction next year is going to be far more competitive (read as: expensive), and there are rules that may limit AT&T’s ability to buy the amount of spectrum it really wants in certain markets. Finally, with AT&T’s plans to acquire DirecTV, securing a partnership with DISH, who now holds considerable spectrum, is not likely.
Verizon did not spend nearly as much as AT&T, or get as much spectrum in the auction, but its strategy was aimed at shoring up its license holdings. Big Red only has 2 out of the top 20 markets where it has less than 100MHz of spectrum to work with. This gives some opportunity for Verizon to be more aggressive next year, but it may look into leasing licenses from DISH.
T-Mobile played its cards close, and did not blow the bank which analysts believe will give the carrier more to work with next year. Looking at the map though, it did pretty well for spending only $1.8 billion.
DISH Network went big with the unpaired spectrum blocks, winning nearly every available license in the process. Regulator concerns aside, DISH has quite a portfolio. Now, everyone wants to know what the company is going to do with it.